Pakistan escalate IPL protest

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The Independent Online

The Pakistan Cricket Board will file a complaint with the ICC after its players were ignored during the IPL auction earlier this week. The eight IPL franchises on Tuesday did not bid for any Pakistan cricketers – including its Twenty20 captain, Shahid Afridi.

Pakistan sports minister Ijaz Jhakrani yesterday called the exclusion of Pakistan players "a serious issue. How can they avoid bidding for players from the world-champion team?" Jhakrani said.

Pakistan are the reigning Twenty20 world champions after winning the title in England last year. After meeting the PCB chairman in Lahore, Jhakrani said "it's our unanimous decision to take up this issue at the highest forum and lodge our protest."

There has been anger in Pakistan over the auction, with effigies of IPL commissioner Lalit Modi burned in several cities. The speaker of the lower house had also stopped a parliamentary delegation from travelling to India in protest.

Modi blamed the media for the uproar and denied there was any conspiracy against Pakistan players. "The media is biased," he said. "No one talks about the players from countries like Australia, Canada and Zimbabwe not being picked in the auction. There was no preconceived conspiracy to leave Pakistani players."

The auction featured 66 international players available for just 11 slots, with West Indies' Kieron Adrian Pollard joining the Mumbai Indians after attracting an undisclosed fee, exceeding his price of $750,000 [£470,000] per season.

A top Board of Control for Cricket in India (BCCI) official said Pakistan should not feel insulted by the fact its players were ignored during the auction, because many players from other nations were also overlooked. "The differing needs of the franchises and availability of the players played a large role in whom the teams bid for," said N Srinivasan, owner of the Chennai Super Kings and BCCI secretary. "How can you say if you do not buy a player from a particular country it is an insult to that nation? There were 55 cricketers who must have been disappointed with the auction."

The BCCI official denied that the cricket board or the Indian government blocked the selection of Pakistan players. "The BCCI has no role. And the choice of the individual team owners should not be mixed up with government policy," he said.

Rajhastan Royals' co-owner and Bollywood actress Shilpa Shetty said she had been receiving hate mail since Tuesday's auction. "There is nothing bigger than cricket but everything is getting murky," Shetty said. "I am very hurt and there have been hate mails also. We have lost some of the greatest players in the world, but why doesn't anyone talk about Australia, England and so many others who were not picked in the auction?"